I had an opportunity to attend the grand opening performance of Allegiance on Broadway last Sunday night. This is the musical inspired by the true life experience of George Takei, who also stars in the show. As a child, Takei and his family were relocated to an internment camp following the attack on Pearl Harbor. His memories of that experience form the basis of Allegiance.

My great grandparents, grandparents, and parents lived in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Fortunately, they were not relocated to any internment camp. But I know they experienced some form of doubt about their loyalty in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

And this is what is at the heart of Allegiance: loyalty. The war forced Japanese American people to choose loyalties. And those choices or non-choices tore people and families apart.

If you are traveling to New York, I urge you to see Allegiance. It is such an important story about the Japanese American experience that is relevant to everyone, no matter what your ethnic background.

Ja, ne.



Tiffcom 2015

I’ve written about Tiffcom before. It’s the Tokyo International Film Festival and content showcase that takes place each October in Tokyo. The content trade show portion lasts three whole days, and consists of a large exhibition area filled with booths manned by stations and producers hoping to sell their programs. It’s an excellent opportunity to meet with producers of programs from all over Japan, all at one location.

For us, it’s a chance to reconnect with producers and stations we have long established relationships with. But it’s equally beneficial to be able to meet new stations and producers we have not done business with before and learn about their products.

I’ve attended Tiffcom about four or five times since its inception 12 years ago, and always come back inspired. Sometimes, I’m inspired by a new genre of programs I learn about. Other times, I’m inspired by the establishment of a new relationship.

This time, I was most inspired by a group of stations from smaller cities in Japan. Each wanted to share programs that showcase the food, sightseeing highlights, and cultural strengths of their home town. It was clear everyone takes pride in their home town. And, interestingly, the stations that seemed to have the most pride and inspired me the most were the stations located in the hard hit Tohoku areas of Iwate, Miyagi, Sendai, and Fukushima. Heartwarming stories are plentiful in areas that have experienced hardship.

We plan to air many new programs in 2016, some of them from these smaller stations. I think once you’ve seen them, you’ll be inspired, too.

Ja, ne!


Tennou no Ryoriban – The Emperor’s Chef

We have a new drama starting Sunday, 10/25, at 9pm. The Japanese title is Tennou no Ryoriban, or The Emperor’s Chef. It is based on the true story about Tokuzo Akiyama, who was a master chef in the Ministry of the Imperial Household from 1921 to 1989.

As a young boy (and second son) Tokuzo flitted from one thing to another, unconcerned about his future and unable to make a commitment. It was a source of great frustration for his father. So his father arranged for Tokuzo to marry the daughter of a family that owned a seaweed business. One day while delivering seaweed, the newly married Tokuzo is given a sample of a freshly fried cutlet that he finds so delicious, it overwhelms him. From that point on, Tokuzo has found his future. He is inspired to become a cook of western style food.

Tokuzo trains in Paris and at the young age of 26, he becomes the chef for the Emperor of Japan!

Ja, ne!



As a young boy growing up in the country

Tokuzo tastes a new food, and this awakens

his awareness and interest in cooking.

Tokuzo goes to Tokyo and Paris

to pursue the culinary arts.


Fighting against discrimination and prejudice,

he becomes a chef at the Ritz Hotel in Paris,

the epitome of high society and luxury.

At the young age of 26, he rises to become the Emperor’s Chef in Japan.

You Impress Me

I regularly receive comments from you — our viewers – with suggestions for shows you’d like to see on KIKU. Your level of knowledge about Japanese programs, actors, music, and/or other details never fails to impress me.

Many times, the programs you suggest are programs already under negotiation for future airing on KIKU. But sometimes, you inform us about new programs we were not aware of or had not considered yet. That amazes me.

We appreciate your knowledge of Japanese programs and your suggestions. Thank you.

Ja, ne!

Letter to Mom in Heaven

In January this year, we aired a special titled “Letter to Mom in Heaven” as part of our New Year’s week of specials. If you didn’t see it in January (or even if you did), you’ll have a chance to see it this Wednesday when we air it in place of Mystery Theatre. It’s a very bittersweet story about a family trying to heal itself after the death of the wife and mother.

The husband, Haruki Mizunuma, is a workaholic who focused all his energy on his career, leaving the raising of his young son to his wife, Kyoko. But after Kyoko passes away, Haruki is faced with raising his son alone. This is even more difficult when his son Ren becomes despondent and loses the will to live.

At the one year anniversary of Kyoko’s death, Haruki and Ren travel to Kyoko’s hometown to visit her father. But Haruki has another motive for the visit. He wants to search for the meaning behind the “tree of happiness” Kyoko wrote about in her diary.

Ja, ne!


Autumn Specials

Can you believe it? It’s already September!

Which means…it’s time for our Autumn (September) specials!!!

This year, our specials are airing the week of September 14. If you’re a long-time KIKU viewer who followed Making It Through throughout all 20 seasons, you’ll be excited to learn there is a new 2015 special. We will be airing the four hour special on two nights: Monday, 9/14, and Sunday, 9/20. A lot has happened to the Okakura family since the last special. Some sad news, some happy news, and, as usual, many things for the sisters to deal with and figure out.

On Wednesday, 9/16, which is usually our Mystery Theatre night, we are airing a Seichi Matsumoto special, Black Gospel. Matsumoto’s signature style is intrigue, and Black Gospel will not disappoint. It is about a crime that takes place in 1959, a time following the war when Japanese were very sensitive about how foreigners in their country were treated, so as not to create international problems. When a young foreign priest is suspected in the murder of a young woman, detectives must handle the investigation with great sensitivity. And this becomes a greater problem when their investigations uncover shadowy business dealings behind the church.

Our Thursday special is Pro Bono, about a young woman seeking revenge against an attorney who refused to defend her younger brother, who was wrongly accused of a crime. When her brother is sentenced to life and dies in prison, the young woman, Kiriko, is determined to avenge the injustice done to her brother.

Friday, 9/18, we have a Mission to Kill special. We aired a Mission to Kill special last year, and this program is a continuation of that special, in which four professional assassins are hired by victims of crimes seeking revenge.

If you love animals, you’ll love our Saturday special, Kinako’s Challenge. It is a documentary about a police dog named Kinako who just could not pass her dog exams, and the trainer who never gave up on her.

Following Kinako, is a special starring our popular “fat detective” Hidehiko Ishizuka, and another fat guy, Sumo Master Furiwake. The two travel to Odawara and Hakone playing an eating game. The winner gets to eat to his heart’s content, while the loser is left with an empty stomach.

Please tune in for our September specials!

Ja, ne!



My Prince

We have a new drama starting next Friday, 8/28, at 8pm. It is titled My Prince (real Japanese title is Hakuba no Ouji-sama Junai Tekireiki).

This drama is about a single schoolteacher named Takako Hara. At 32 years of age, and with multiple failed relationships in her past and no serious boyfriend in her present life, Takako assumes she will probably be alone the rest of her life.

Until…a teacher seven years younger than Takako joins the staff. Despite their age difference, Takako finds herself falling in love. But can he reciprocate her feelings when he is already engaged to be married?

Tune in to My Prince to find out!

Ja, ne!


A Summer of Specials


We are re-airing a number of special programs this summer. If you missed them the first time, I hope you will catch them this time.

We began a couple of Fridays ago with Sore ga Shiritai. Last night, we aired Yasu. Here is a list of the other specials we will be airing in the coming weeks:

Fri, 8/14 – 9-10pm: Big Family in a Small Village, Part 1

Wed, 8/19 – 8-10pm: The Housekeeper 2

Fri, 8/21 – 9-10pm: Big Family in a Small Village, Part 2

Wed, 8/26 – 8-9:30pm: A Pierrot Praying for the Moon

Wed, 9/2 – 8-10:30pm: Love or Duty: Samurai Rebellion

Wed, 9/9 – 8-10:30pm: Shinzanmono Special

Wed, 9/23 – 8-10pm: The Stork’s Nest

Wed, 9/30 – 8-10pm: Letter to Mom in Heaven

We will also be airing a whole week of new special programs the week of September 14. I’ll share more about these programs with you next time.

Ja, ne!


Trivia Question Follow-up

We now have the three winners to our trivia question! Congratulations to the winners for identifying these three actors appearing in shows currently airing on KIKU:

Hiroaki Murakami – in Zenigata Heiji (historical) and Love and Deceit (modern)

Mayumi Wakamura – in Hana Moyu (historical) and Love and Deceit (modern) or Investigator Mariko (modern)

Kanji Tsuda – in Hana Moyu (historical) and Behind the Noren (modern)

We also wanted to share that our viewers are more knowledgeable than us! We thought there were only three actors who qualified as answers to this trivia question, and were surprised to learn (from our viewers) that there are three more actors we hadn’t thought of! They are:

Tsuyoshi (or Takashi) Naito – in Hana Moyu (historical) and Investigator Mariko (modern)

Hirotaro Honda – Hana Moyu (historical) and The Last Policeman (modern)

Rena Tanaka - in Hana Moyu (historical) and Love and Deceit (modern)

We love that you found these actors we hadn’t thought of. Thank you for playing!

Ja, ne!